Top Ranking features remixes of songs from Santogold’s debut album, as well as remixes of other artists. Santogold also has previously unreleased songs on the mixtape, including a cover of The Clash‘s “The Guns of Brixton“, with lyrics altered to refer to Brooklyn. “Guns of Brooklyn” and “Get It Up”, a collaboration with M.I.A. that heavily samples Gorilla Zoe‘s “Hood Nigga“, were leaked to the blogosphere prior to the mixtape’s release. An alternate version of “Get It Up” featuring Esau Mwamwaya rather than Gorilla Zoe also appeared on the internet. The album was released for a short period of time on the internet as a free download.
After taking inspiration from a Siouxsie and the Banshees song for her track “My Superman” on her debut album, Santogold sampled for this mix tape another song of their Kaleidoscope, “Lunar Camel”.
The mixtape has received comparisons to M.I.A. and Diplo’s 2004 mixtape, Piracy Funds Terrorism. However, Pitchfork Media stated that “the similarities between this collaboration and Diplo’s first– 2004’s M.I.A.-trumpeting Piracy Funds Terrorism mix– are as superficial as those between M.I.A. and Santogold themselves.” According to NME, Top Ranking “expands on her [Santogold’s] debut’s cultural crossover”, incorporating “hyphy, crunk, classic dub and new wave”. The review continued that the mixtape “is a must-have” either “as a standalone mixtape or a perfect companion to Santogold“.Exclaim! said that Top Ranking “showcases Santogold’s steeze and flexibility as an MC/singer.” They praised Diplo’s “global and eclectic” production, calling Top Ranking “a top-notch mixtape that will hopefully find its way up from the underground.”Idolator labelled the disc “an entertaining listen, with most of the disparate influences that influence Santogold’s debut appearing in one form or another.”Slant Magazine said that “Top Ranking’s hotness can’t—and shouldn’t—be downplayed”, but also that it doesn’t distinguish itself from Piracy Funds Terrorism and that “Santogold’s unique essence feels lost amid the clutter.”